“Low country Bordello” by Susan M. Boyer
Blurb: The Charleston streets are dressed for the holidays in sophisticated Southern style: topiaries adorned with red ribbons, garland entwined with white lights, and poinsettias potted in gold planters. The high class bordello in a stately historic home is certainly no exception. When Private Investigator Liz Talbot’s dear friend Olivia swears she saw a dead body in the parlor of this bordello, one Olivia accidentally co-owns, Liz promptly comes to her aid.
With her wedding back home on Stella Maris less than a week away, Liz must juggle one elderly madam, two ex and future in-laws, three ghosts in the bordello, four giddy bridesmaids, five lovely courtesans, six suspicious patrons…and a partridge in a pear tree as she tries to keep her bridesmaid out of jail and live to walk down the aisle.
Related subjects include: women sleuths, private investigator mystery series, murder mysteries, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations, Southern fiction, Southern humor, Southern living.
A Day in the Life of Liz Talbot, PI, by Susan M. Boyer
The dead are not altogether reliable. Colleen, my best friend, calls herself a Guardian Spirit. I can’t argue with the facts at hand: She’s been dead seventeen years, and she watches my back. I’m a private investigator, so situations arise from time to time wherein my back needs watching. Technically, Colleen’s afterlife mission is to protect Stella Maris, our island home near Charleston, South Carolina, from developers and all such as that. Since I’m on the town council and can’t abide the notion of condos and time-shares on our pristine beaches, protecting me falls under her purview.
Solving my cases, however, does not. She’ll tell me that in a skinny minute should I happen to mention how she could be more helpful. But she has been known to toss me the occasional insight from beyond that provokes a train of thought, which, upon reflection, proves useful. Here’s the thing: Colleen shows up when she detects I’m in danger. Sometimes she warns me in advance. Occasionally she drops by just to chat. But she doesn’t come whenever I think of her or call her name. It rarely works like that.
One Monday in December, I really could’ve used Colleen’s perspective. We were closing in on Christmas, and I was getting married on the twentieth—in five days. I was a teensy bit distracted, is what I’m saying.
It was a little after ten in the morning, and I was at my desk in the living room of my beachfront house, which doubles as my office. I was deep into research on a criminal case Nate, my partner and fiancé, and I were working for Andy Savage. Andy was a high profile Charleston attorney, and while this case didn’t amount to much more than fact-checking, we hoped it would lead to a lucrative relationship for Talbot and Andrews, our agency.
I stared at my computer screen and reached for one of Mamma’s Christmas cookies. My phone trilled out the ringtone named Old Phone. Old Phone was reserved for old friends. I grabbed my phone instead of the cookie.
Robert Pearson. He’d been a year ahead of me in high school, the same age as my brother, Blake. He’d married one of my best friends. Robert was also our family attorney, and he and I were both on the Stella Maris town council.
I tapped the green “accept” button.
After we exchanged the usual pleasantries, he said, “I wondered, if you’re not too busy, could you drop by this afternoon? There’s something I want to run by you.”
“I have an appointment at one that’s going to take most of the afternoon.” Multi-toned highlights are a maintenance issue, especially with hair as long as mine. My natural sandy blonde would turn Tweety Bird yellow if Dori looked at it wrong. She always took her time, but five days before my wedding she’d be excruciatingly meticulous. I couldn’t walk down the aisle with yellow hair.
“Noon?” he asked.
“Sure. See you then.”
“Thanks, Liz. I really appreciate it.” He sounded way too grateful for such an ordinary request. This is what should’ve tipped me off that something was up.
Copyright © 2015 by Susan M. Boyer — This excerpt is reprinted by permission from Henery Press. All rights reserved.
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Susan lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.
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Describe yourself in five words: Do I need to make a sentence with them? Because that’s harder… Family-oriented book-freak-of-a karaoke-loving chocoholic wine enthusiast. Wait, that’s six… I don’t know what else to hyphenate.
When did you know you were a writer? I think from a very young age—early teens, maybe? But it was a long time before I could act upon my goals.
Salty or sweet? Oh, how to choose? I like them both, especially together.
Tell us about your writing/editing/publishing process? I like to have four months to produce a draft that I’m going to send to my editor. I don’t always have that, because life happens. When I’m writing, I write five days a week, sometimes seven. I typically start around nine in the morning and work throughout the day. The next day, the first thing I do is edit what I wrote yesterday. That gets me back into the story, and by the time I’ve finished the first draft, it’s already been edited once. I like to let the manuscript rest for a week, then dive back into an edit. Rinse and repeat. Once I’ve turned a manuscript in, I get high-level, developmental edits, then copy edits and proofreading. Once I get advance reader copies, there’s a last round of proofreading. Then I go into pre-launch/marketing mode. After the book is launched, I do some online events as well as some in person. Then the whole cycle starts over form the beginning.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I love the feel of a hardback book in my hands. That said, I do read eBooks when I’m traveling for convenience and when I’m overcome by a moment of instant gratification syndrome, like when I finish one book in a series at midnight and can’t wait until the next day to start the next.
Is the social media a help or a hinder? Honestly, both. I love interacting with readers and keeping up with family, but at times I do get caught up and spend too much time online.
Where do you get your ideas coming from? Virtually anywhere. I have a vivid imagination. Something I overhear, sometimes just a few words, might start a story percolating. Or a picture, or a news story. It doesn’t take much to get me started.
If you could meet any other author who would it be? That’s a tough one. I’ve met and had the opportunity to speak with so many authors I admire through conventions and book festivals, and there are many I’d like to spend more time with. Among those I’ve never met who I’d like to spend some time with would be Stephen King. His book, On Writing has been very helpful to me, especially when I was beginning to write.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I’d like to have at least five more books in the Liz Talbot series out, and possibly the first book in a new series I’m just beginning to think about.
Every author must have (a): I think this may vary from author to author. I know I need a quiet place to write, free from distractions. But others love the coffee shop environment.
What do you want readers to take away from your books? Honestly, I just want readers to have fun reading my books. I want the books to be a pleasant escape into an alternate world where the reader can relax and enjoy a break.
What are you working on right now? The next Liz Talbot mystery, LOWCOUNTRY BOOK CLUB.
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